Slovenia

   The 2002 census puts the Gypsy population figure at 3,246. The 1971 Yugoslav census recorded 977 Romanies, while in the 1991 census (the last in the Yugoslav Federation) 2,293 had declared themselves as Roma and, inexplicably, a larger number-2,847-said
   Romani was their mother tongue. A report from the Institute for Nationality Questions in Ljubljana gave a figure of 5,300 for the Gypsy population for 1997. Experts estimate the Gypsy population as 10,000. Gypsies live in three regions: Prekmurje and near the borders of Austria and Hungary; Dolnesjska (southeast of Ljubljana); and Gorenjska-Alta Carniola near Bled.
   The first report of Gypsies on the territory of present-day Slovenia dates from 1453 and refers to a smith. During World War II, part of Slovenia was annexed to Germany and the Gypsies living there were taken to concentration camps.
   Slovenia became an independent state in 1991 after a brief skirmish with the Yugoslav Federation. Article 65 of the constitution of the new republic states: "The legal situation and particular rights of the Romany population living in Slovenia will be settled by the law." This vague statement has never been fully defined. The national law on local self-government stipulates that in areas where minorities live they should have members on councils, but in 1998 there was only one such Romany representative.
   Although the Roma in Slovenia have escaped the miseries of the wars in the neighboring countries, their situation is unenviable. Most live in segregated settlements, are unemployed, and subsist on welfare payments, while the percentage in prison is much higher than for the Slovenian population as a whole. Only 509 were registered as having work, and only 25 percent of the children were at school. Roma children, as elsewhere in central and eastern Europe, have problems when they come to school because they do not know the majority language and lack social skills, while many schools try to avoid registering Romany children. Their lack of education leads the majority of Roma to depend on unskilled work, and they are the first to go when factory personnel are reduced. Such employment as there is includes cleaning, farmwork, road construction, stonemasonry, and horse trading. Even qualified Roma find it difficult to get work because of discrimination. The rate of mortality is higher than for the Slovenian population as a whole.
   There have been some examples of extreme prejudice in housing, as in 1997 when the Slovene inhabitants of Malina prevented a Romany family from moving into a house in their village-a move designed as part of an integration program. Local authorities refuse planning permission for Roma to build houses, refuse to find accommodation for them, and then blame them for building houses illegally or for living in poor conditions.
   The central government of Slovenia has set up an InterDepartmental Commission for Roma Matters, which, aside from representatives of ministries, has members of the local authorities in areas where Roma live and from Romany organizations. Twenty distinct Romany communities are designated "autochthonous," that is, established in the country. They are entitled to a seat on their local municipal councils, and all but one council (Grosuplje) has complied.
   In 1995 the government started a program to improve the lot of the Roma. Its aims included improving the living conditions in Romany settlements and increasing the educational opportunities for Romany children from nursery school to university. However, such official initiatives for Roma depend on local goodwill to carry them out. The Roma in Prekmurje are best organized and generally cooperate with the authorities, but in 1998 they organized a demonstration- blocking a highway-to press for the building of a road to the Romany village of Beltinci.
   In the first seven years of the new state, seven Romany organizations were founded. They have now come together in one union, Zveza Romskih Drustev Slovenije (The Association of Romany Organizations in Slovenia), whose president is author Jozuek Horvat-Muc. These organizations are involved in the fields of culture, education, information, and sports, but not politics. Radio broadcasts in Romani come from Murska Sobota and Novo Mesto. In Murska Sob-ota, there is also a theater group that has been functioning since 1992. A magazine, Romano Them (Romany World), is published by a nongovernmental organization, while the Romanies in Murska Sob-ota produce their own bilingual paper, Romske Novice.

Historical dictionary of the Gypsies . .

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